Imitating the Dog and Pete Brooks, Hotel Methuselah

Review in Issue 18-3 | Autumn 2006

Care, precision, painstaking reconstruction, inventive elisions between screen and stage, attention to detail and a superb soundtrack from Neil Boynton; yet there is something not quite in order in Hotel Methuselah. At crucial moments, the patina of eurocool thins too far, the dialogue creaks and stalls, and the whole thing morphs uncontrollably into Lynchisms without the dread, Kubrick hotel corridor shots without the blood-spattered twins.

For Hotel Methuselah, a collaboration between Pete Brooks and Imitating the Dog, the staging is almost royal in its perspective: a broad slit in a front screen beyond which is a second, and main, screen, and between the two a live-action area with a treadmill and sliding truck. The arrangement facilitates all sorts of enjoyable and evocative tricksiness: decapitation, glorious realisations of overhead shots and 360-degree swirls, and the highlight-snatched intrusions into numerous rooms. Annoyingly, the broad slit is cut at a height that makes major players of the backs of some of the audience's heads.

The colours are beautiful: white flies on blood landscapes, print dresses, oily interiors, mossy wallpaper. The performers adroitly carry the broad burden of acting to camera and physicalising the same presence live. Yet, in crucial respects, the script falters, not because it doesn't work as a referential narrative, but because it wants to try at all, and then can't be quite bothered enough to be subtle. A bully speaks in poetry, everyone else in minimelos of subdued communication The women, a bellhop's fantasy, repeatedly 'cut to the chase' to offer a fuck. There is a narrative line – an armed and anonymous woman newly arrived in the besieged city elides with the wife the night porter denies having – but the dialogue cannot quite attach the force and wonder of the production to it.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-3
p. 30